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Introduction to Sowing Possibility Episode 3 featuring Miranda Moen

Dear Community, Today I get to share a conversation with someone I consider a dear friend. Miranda and I met just over a year ago, at a time when it felt like 2020 would never end. We had both recently started our own businesses and were figuring out how to communicate with clients, gage capacity and make a profit plan, while also working long nights on our passion projects. Mine of course is Reframing Rural, while Miranda’s is her Fulbright research and a book she is working on. Her research explores how variations in Norwegian vernacular architecture, and Norwegian immigrant architecture in Minnesota, signal region- and class-specific cultural and social nuances. In other words, Miranda uncovers what farmsteads and outbuildings say about the specific economic and cultural moment in which they were built, and how these markers of culture inform our rural identities today. I interviewed Miranda two days after she arrived to the Norwegian Emigrant Museum in Ottestad, Norway where she is beginning the Norwegian half of her transnational research project. She was acclimating to the dark and mountainous shared homeland of our ancestors, while I was gearing up for a pheasant hunting trip back at my homeplace in Northeast Montana. When I arrived home, there was a skiff of snow on the ground and the air felt clean and cutting, especially in comparison to when I was last home for harvest season. While admiring the old granaries, country schools and abandoned farm houses, I noticed architectural details I had never before considered having just spoken to Miranda. Were these homesteads built with the Norwegian floor plan Miranda told me about? Who built my grandma’s house? What stories could my grandpa (who would have turned 100 today!) have told me about the old Martinson or Dahlstrom place? During this trip I also got to see my farm through the eyes of my longest friend Morgan Haynie and other friends from Western Montana. Morgan was curious why there were so many abandoned buildings out on the plains. While I could convey the spiritual feeling I had about the prairie - not through words, but by running through cattails and across coulees chasing partridge, grouse and pheasants - I couldn’t find an adequate explanation as to why so many of the buildings were left to collapse and ultimately disappear. In this podcast episode however, Miranda addresses this question, along with what we stand to lose if we lose our historic farm and main street buildings. As we enter the winter season and spend more time inside, I hope this episode sparks curiosity about the buildings that shape our lives and that can teach us something about our past. Sincere gratitude to my friends Miranda and Morgan who help me make sense of place and identity, and whose love of wild places and rural buildings offer me endless inspiration.

Yours, Megan


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